Programming and intro to MDA


Second session down – lots to talk about! Everyone had the chance to try out some tutorials and we were impressed with the clarity people had in their game visions. If you’re having a hard time getting clarity, try forming a sentence along this template:

I want to make a [GENRE] game about [THEME] where the main mechanic is [VERB] in [GAME ENGINE].

For example, “I want to make a rail shooter game about archerfish where the main mechanic is shooting water in Stencyl”. Having a focus helps you make decisions and set your main goal for your game.

Keep in mind, even if your idea seems 100% clear right now, it’s still early enough in the game to change it up! As you implement your game, you can discover new paths and unexpected fun and there’s no reason not to take a new opportunity or change ideas as you’re making it. In fact, it’s expected that the game you make won’t be exactly what you thought initially- embrace it!


Our very own coordinator Elaine presented the concept of MDA: Mechanics, Dynamics, and Aesthetics. It’s one of the many frameworks we can use to analyze games. It helps give us a common language to talk about our games and other games.

For more information:
Jennifer’s presentation on MDA during PGI5
Alicia’s presentation on MDA during PGI4
Presentation on MDA dring PGI2
Une traduction de la source originale cité dans la présentation de Jennifer et d’Alicia.
Original source cited in the presentations


We also talked about “paper prototyping”: sketching out your game on paper first, and using props (like quarters and dimes, a stack of playing cards) and diagrams (post-it notes with different outcomes, flowcharts) to try re-creating your game concept on a few sheets of paper. Rather than spending time tackling unknown tasks at the computer, use your paper prototype to make clear what your goals are, and to take inventory of what exactly it is that you even need to code and make art and sound for. Consider your game design and ask yourself: Can I even play this? Is this a fun (or whatever other emotional states you’re trying to trigger) game?

Particularly helpful too if you want a branching narrative, drawing a diagram by hand can help you figure out holes and missing branches quickly.

→ Here is an example of a very simple game found in a Google Doodle, that was step-by-step paper prototyped.


Eleanor Jacques-Morel is an alumna from the Pixelles Game Incubator 4, and the creator of the marvelous game Strawberry Punch), as well as other super coooool games! (Also check out her playtesting group for Strawberry Punch!) She was our mentor this week, and gave us a presentation on game engines and an introduction to programming logic.

For more information:
Here is a presentation on variables and logical operators.


We encourage you to go online to discuss at our Facebook Groups or on our Slack channels, but there’s still no substitute for face-to-face interactions. Thus we encourage you to meet with us again to ask questions, brainstorm, bug-fix or just for tea and biscuits!

When: Saturdays from January 6 to February 17 février 2018, inclusively
Time: 14h à 17h
Where: Rubika Montréal, 5455 de Gaspé av., suite 430 (Laurier metro station)


  1. Analyse your game in terms of MDA: What is your core mechanic? What’s your Aesthetic goal? What Dynamics do you think the players will have?
  2. Get the main input of your game working in your game engine. How will the player play- Dragging the mouse? Typing on the keyboard? Screaming into the mic?
  3. Make a paper prototype of your gameplay. Use cards, paper, post its, drawing to flesh out level ideas, narrative trees, or point and click options. Get creative, and don’t be shy to show it to other people to see if they understand! Paper prototypes help find problems in your design much faster than if you had to code them all to find them!
  4. If you hit a wall, it’s okay. Come out to the meetup or contact the group via email, Slack or Facebook. As long as you’re started this week, we can suss out where you may be having problems and adjust, for next week!

Don’t hesitate to send us any questions, ask for feedback, or bounce ideas. You can send us e-mails at We are also always happy for new members on our Slack channel and Facebook page!

Next week: Game Design and Internal Playtest!

Posted in Game Incubator, News, Pixelles Game Incubator 6
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Pixelles is a non-profit initiative committed to helping more people make and change games. We're based in Montreal, and have already succeeded in building a supportive community of game creators, both hobbyist and professional.

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